The violence meted out by PA forces against Palestinian demonstrators Wednesday night was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. When it was all over, one thing became clear: the PA isn’t a subcontractor of the occupation, they are in lock step.
Having just witnessed her friend’s arrest, and frustrated by her failure to prevent it, a young activist stood in front of a line of police officers, defenseless, and instinctively shouted, “With spirit, with blood, we’ll redeem you Gaza.” Members of the Palestinian security forces, dressed in civilian clothes, knocked her to the ground. Two policemen joined in and began kicking the bleeding, terrified woman.
This was just one of the many scenes of violence meted out by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces against Palestinian demonstrators who had gathered in the center of Ramallah Wednesday night to demand an end to the PA’s sanctions against Gaza. It was the second such demonstration in the span of a week.
The first demonstration, on Sunday, was relatively uneventful, but on Wednesday the PA’s response was severe: police arrested 69 activists, some of whom were arrested after the protest while they were receiving treatment for their wounds in the hospital. Security forces attacked journalists, women, the elderly, and bystanders, confiscating and breaking cameras and phones. Meanwhile, groups of Fatah youth dressed in civilian clothes infiltrated the protest and meted out their own violence.
The trip to Ramallah, on a bus carrying activists from Haifa, went smoothly. But upon our arrival at Manara Square, we found an unexpectedly large number of Palestinian security forces: hundreds of armed, uniformed security forces — some in police uniforms, some special forces, others in military uniforms with balaclavas covering their faces. Everyone there that night understood that there were also members of secret police — dressed in civilian clothes — circulating among the demonstrators.
The police had preemptively declared the demonstration illegal the previous morning. According to the PA, the reason was “the desire not to disturb the residents of the city in their preparation for the upcoming Iftar celebration.” The protest was supposed to start at 9:30 p.m., but police prevented demonstrators from gathering in the square. Then suddenly, the police moved with great force toward one of the streets that split off from the square, and began firing stun grenades and tear gas toward the protesters.
I took out my phone...Read More